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Jefferson Co. seeks input on recreation needs

January 03, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Want to have some input on parks and recreation programs in Jefferson County?

Here's your chance.

A survey will be mailed to 4,500 randomly picked people in the county asking them what kind of recreation activities they would be interested in, said Toni Milbourne, vice president of the board of directors of the Jefferson County Parks and Recreation Commission.

Another 500 survey forms will be sent to local schools for students to complete, Milbourne said.

County officials decided to distribute the survey after the Jefferson County Commission voted last year to set aside $1 million to acquire additional park and recreation land in the county, Milbourne said.

The survey was developed by Management Learning Laboratories, a Winston-Salem, N.C., firm that has been paid $26,500 to perform the work, Milbourne said.

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The surveys will be used to develop a ranking of recreational programs which are most favored for the county, Milbourne said.

The list then will be used to help determine which projects will be developed in the county, depending on the cost and feasibility, Milbourne said.

Milbourne said she is trying to get the word out about the surveys in hopes that people will fill them out and return them and not discard the forms.

The survey is divided into several sections, including recreational interests, areas of need, time and availability of recreational programs and how programs should be funded.

In the recreational interests section, people are asked whether they would be interested in a list of 21 recreational activities.

The list includes arts and crafts, sports and athletics, performing arts, extended multiday events, aquatics and gardening.

The survey asks respondents how many times in the last year they have visited facilities such as waterfront parks, campgrounds, nature centers, fishing areas, golf courses, historical sites and boating sites and whether they went out of state to visit them.

Recreation programs and facilities and how they are offered in the county have been a topic of discussion in past years.

Two years ago, representatives of at least six sports youth groups expressed concerns about a proposed community center at Sam Michaels Park, saying no one asked them for input about what is needed for local recreational programs.

Representatives of the youth football, basketball, soccer and cheerleading organizations say they are serving more than 3,000 children and are struggling to offer the programs in the face of high liability insurance rates, equipment costs and dwindling field space, money and other issues.

County officials responded by saying the criticism was nonproductive and that the community center was needed to provide space for expanded recreational programs in coming years.

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